Carbon 101: A bunch of hot air..?

Carbon.  What has it done and why is everyone so worked up about it?  Its presence is a threat to life as we know it, and yet it moves all around us daily and we barely notice...well for the most part.  So why is it so important?  The answer is a couple of reasons.  It is the gas mostly responsible for affecting the climate system.  We can accurately measure it and it can be used as a kind of marker or indicator for the potential of gases to influence the climate.  For instance, the methane that comes out of the rotting stuff found in landfills is 21 times worse for the environment than carbon dioxide (CO2).  So stopping 1 tonne of methane from going into the atmosphere is the equivalent of stopping 21 tonnes of CO2 from going into the atmosphere.  Stopping 1 tonne of nitrous oxide (a chemical used in fertilizer production) will reduce emissions by a whopping 310 tonnes of CO2!!  In this way, a carbon footprint can be used to measure our impact on the environment around us.  The current level constant generation of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) into the atmosphere is not sustainable.  And we as the custodians of this planet have to start acting now.


Climate change is such a finely detailed science, it is as dynamic as the world we live in.  The details of climate change are for the most part exactly that. Details.  We rarely know everything about the world we live in - do you know exactly how your car works? Yet we trust that our cars will work and take us from A to B.  Usually when we look after something, it will last longer.  The earth is a car that takes us around the moon and sun.  The planetary motor is the earth's climate system and it is more intricate than the most sophisticated motor ever conceived by a human mind.  We are pumping millions and millions of tonnes of CO2 and CO2e into the engine we call home.  This galactic car 'EarthV4,6' - made by universe motors - will only take so much abuse and mistreatment.  We can all think of the shudders and jerks felt in the last few years.  This galactic car is almost at resale stage and many would opt for a newer model if they had a chance.  This is the one car where there is no trade in... Earth V4,6 is a prototype and we have to help her or she will break down. 
That in 60 odd seconds is what the climate change problem is all about.  We are putting far too much CO2e into the atmosphere and we have to do something about it.  If you have not yet been asked what your carbon footprint is, get familiar with the term.  The future will become one where carbon will be constrained and polluters who rampantly damage our natural world will be held accountable.  We as passengers on this ride of life should also not stand idly by and consider ourselves powerless.  We can support projects that reduce greenhouse gases, facilitate renewable energy projects and support the development of sustainable businesses that push for a greener future for all.

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